From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-06-15 22:28:00 UTC
Subject: Re: unusual anemia
--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Tamara Wrzesinski"
> Unfortunately all of this is in retrospect as our 21/2 year old
> passed away almost 2 weeks ago- while it all happened so quickly it
> now I need to know if anyone has any information on unusual anemias
> ferrets for my own peace of mind, I'll explain.
> Autopsy results showed no obvious problems with any of her internal
> so the conclusion is that she had an unusual immune mediated anemia.
> My husband and I wish we could understand why this happened and
> reassurance from our vet we still feel as though there must have
> something we could have done to save her. If nothing else I feel
> have brought her to the vet sooner. But as I said in the beginning
> all this is in retrospect...
Dear Tammy: You should have no guilt on this one. If the diagnosis
was truly immune-mediate anemia, it is one of the least understood
diseases affecting ferrets today, and one that carries the poorest
prognosis. Immune-medicated hemolytic anemias in ferrets arise for
unknown reasons, and commonly appear so quickly, that significant
loss of blood cell mass occurs before any signs are noticed. A
ferret can actually digest its red blood cells to a life-threatening
level within 72 hours.
The treatment for this condition is heavy immunesuppression with
corticosteroids and even stronger medications, and it is rarely
The use of oxyglobin in this case shows the levels that you went to
save her. However, synthetic hemoglobins are best employed when an
insult has passed and the body just needs support until its marrow
regenertive capacity kicks in. When used in the face of a hemoytic
crisis, it simply affords the animal a little more time. Very few
cases of hemolytic anemia in ferrets ever show a regenerative
I am sorry for your loss - but you shoul rest easier in knowing that
the vast majority of AIHA cases in ferret don't respond to anything
(or at least we're still trying to find something that works well on
With kindest regards,
Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
Join the Ferret Health List at